A parking official has been hailed Britain’s NICEST traffic warden – after revealing he spends his days helping people AVOID fines.
Kind-hearted John Lacey, 62, is on a one-man crusade to fight back against his industry’s bad reputation.
John has now been honoured for showing a level of compassion not normally associated with the ticketing boys in blue.
His good-will approach spreads to helping stricken motorists struggling to pay, rescuing others who have broken down and turning a blind eye to minor parking discrepancies.
The great granddad even finds time to clear up all the litter on his rounds and will often spend more time helping drivers with his mechanic skills than penalising them.
John says he will often go some weeks without issuing ANY tickets – but feels his way of operating works and sets his team apart from others.
He has been working as a civil enforcement officer for the past 12 years, has now been officially recognised by his council employers as a “thoroughly nice chap”.
He said: “We all too often get a bad rep but I have good rapport with people. My ethos has always been ‘treat people the way you want to be treated’.”
John is married to Patricia, 66, and has one daughter Debbie, 50. He has three grandchildren Ryan, 29, Melissa, 27, Natalie, 16, and one great granddaughter.
He lives in Exeter, Devon and helps patrol East Devon District Council run car parks – but says he does everything possible to try and avoid anyone being fined.
He said: “My philosophy is that I would rather help people avoid a PCN than give one out. I would say that philosophy is what sets our council apart from other councils.
“I am keen to help them – and my team would rather educate than serve a PCN. Where possible, we like to talk and educate and help.
“I have had times when someone’s car wouldn’t start and they say they have no money left and I would give them 24 hours’ – we are compassionate towards people.”
“We are not the big, bad meanies people say we are.”
Since receiving an award from East Devon District Council he has received a string of plaudits from colleagues and members of his local community.
Modest John said: “I am humbled and embarrassed to be thought of as Britain’s nicest traffic warden – I am only doing my job in the best possible way I can.
“It isn’t – and shouldn’t be – about just trying to make a quick buck.
“Some people may even use the car park to use the toilet, because they want to get changed, there could be lots of reasons.
“We are not in the business of giving out PCNs all the time. I just try and treat people with respect and I get that back.”
His “softly, softly” approach means he will regularly allow people to get change and if their ticket is about to expire waits for them to return instead of just slapping down a fine.
He said: “I don’t want to tell you how long we give them as a grace period but we try to give them a chance.
“We are here to help people rather than prosecute them.”
In the course of an average day, John will clear up litter, clean road signs and – if it looks likely to rain, he will even call permit holders to tell them they have left their car windows open.
He also gives a helping hand to those whose cars have flat batteries – by jump starting or helping to replace the battery and often helps with wheel changes.
He said: “I’ve helped a guy whose car had been broken into.
“Or if someone’s permit has expired we would phone the office, get details and give them a ring.
“We have people taken to hospital where they have left their car there for two or three days and we have left the vehicle alone rather than issuing them a ticket.
“There are even instances where we get people off their fines and where we allow people to go over the time.
“One instance is when it ended up costing someone £1 instead of £50. We give grace periods but we also look after them in that respect. It’s not the name of the game – issuing PCNs.
“I love working with the public, helping them and treating them as I would expect to be treated. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
John recently received a service recognition award from East Devon District Council.
Andrew Ennis, the council’s service lead for environmental health and car parks, said: “During his ten years of service as a permanent member of staff – and two years as a seasonal employee – John has been a real credit to the council and by all accounts he is also a thoroughly nice chap.”